Home: Issue 1 2008 Lead Story › SUPPLY SUCCESS



18/02/2008 | Channel: Technology, Logistics / Packaging, E-Business / IT, Retail, Business, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Automotive, Engineering, Shipping


Over the last decade companies across the world have come to realise the importance of their supply chains, and the benefits that can be gained from focusing on this area of their operations.

For evidence of this change in philosophy, you need look no further than the annual CIPS Supply Management Awards. Showcasing the best that the UK has to offer in the field, this event brings together many of the country's leading supply chain professionals and promotes industry best practice.

This year the awards ceremony was bigger and better than ever, with around 1200 people in attendance and a record number of entrants.Held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane on 20 September, the evening saw awards given out in 13 categories ranging from 'Best Use of Technology' through to 'Best People Development Initiative.'

As chair of the CIPS Supply Management Awards judging panel and now president of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), Ron Jarman is the ideal person to tell ESCM more about the event.

Reflecting on the evening, he comments: “I think the awards went very well. I was last a judge four or five years ago and there was a really strong shortlist then, but I would say that this time around the shortlist was equally as strong but even more competitive. In terms of the evening itself, it was the first year at the Grosvenor and we filled that venue - we believe that 1200 people makes it the biggest awards nights for our profession anywhere.”

The range of organisations that were recognised also impressed Ron. “There were a great variety of companies, from quite small enterprises like Wiltshire Schools Buying Community through to Fujitsu Services,” he comments. “So I thought that was really great, not just in terms of the size of the companies who entered, but the variety of examples we saw, from large organisations to small charities.Overall I thought it was an exceptionally strong year.”

Judging process
As a result of the sheer scope and scale of the entries this year, the judging process was understandably difficult. “It was extremely challenging for myself and the other judges to decide on the winners in each category,” confirms Ron. “It is always a very thorough and robust judging process, which isobviously a very important aspect of the awards - their integrity.

“So there was a lot of debate at the judges meetings, but one of the qualities that we were blessed with this year was the mixture of people on the panel. For example, we had Matt Oxley who won the Overall Award last year with Nuffield Hospital, and we had David Pritchard from HSBC who has won many awards. So in the judging panel there were lots of previous winners with a great deal of experience between them.”

The judging process began back in May 2007 when the judges were given entries to mark using a predetermined scoring system. Each entrant was marked in this way by three judges before a shortlisting process followed for each category.All shortlisted entries were subsequently considered by each judge, who after some debate, then decided the award winners in each section.

“There were some very long days for us deciding the shortlist, and particularly to decide the winners from that and the overall winner - it was a good and long debate to come up with a set of winners that we were all proud of,” adds Ron.

Although all the winners and shortlisted companies deserve recognition, there were a number of highlights from the CIPS Supply Management Awards that stand out for particular mention.

Firstly, having already won the 'Best People Development Initiative' category, E.ON UK was then also recognised as the Overall Winner of the 2007 event. Ron explains what set the company apart from its rivals: “I suspect all the judges will have slightly different views, but for me it was the breadth and depth of what they were doing. It's great that a people development award, something around developing talent, won overall, because I think that's a really important area for our discipline.

“They were looking at business skills as well as technical skills, they weren't just teaching people in a narrow field about purchasing and supply chain. Also, they were measuring its impact and could show the number of people who had been promoted as a result, so it was a good business benefit based example of people development, it wasn't just doing it for the sake of it.”

As in many other sectors, people development is becoming an increasingly important subject for the supply chain, as Ron explains: “I regularly speak with CPOs from other organisations and we're all bemoaning the lack of talent in the sector. So it was good to see that kind of recognition. It was a very strong category and E.ON weren't the only company doing it by any stretch, but they had a really good example of how they were developing their own talent in a very efficient way.”

Corporate responsibility
Along with people development, corporate responsibility is another increasingly important area for the supply chain. In the 'Best Contribution to Corporate Responsibility' category, it was Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council that scooped the award. Ron explains why: “Four or five years ago, when I last judged, this category revolved around people setting policies and standards around corporate responsibility for their supply base. It progressed through that and then went through a phase of more auditing suppliers and getting them to sign up to codes of conduct - that's an important step and lots of people are still at that stage.”

He continues: “What was great about Barnsley Council was that they were actually doing something about it, it wasn't just about getting supply chains in order and making sure there was an audit trail - it was something really concrete and they were
making a real difference. They were making changes that were cutting costs, while also being better for the environment and creating jobs within their area as well, so it works on multiple dimensions for them. It was a real action-orientated piece for me, which is what won it in my mind.”

Amongst the big name winners of categories at this year's event were EDF Energy, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency. But it wasn't just the very large organisations that prospered.Wiltshire Schools Buying Community was a prime example in the 'Best Purchasing Initiative by a Smaller Organisation' category.

Previously in Wiltshire, 201 schools had been sharing purchasing experiences and buying power as needs arose. Since May 2006, more systematic collaboration has allowed a step-change. The resulting financial savings and efficiency benefits have boosted education delivery and provided the momentum to widen the community to schools outside the county. The network now links 400 buyers in more than 300 schools.

“This was a very human entry,” confirms Ron. “It involved a number of people who had got together and said there's a better way of doing this, and worked it through amongst themselves.

“I think it was a great example of saying that you don't have to be a GSK or an HSBC or a Reuters to be able to make a real difference. These people have made a significant difference within their schools, basically by just working together in a really smart way, and doing it through energy and enthusiasm - that really caught the
imagination of all the judges.”

Across all the various categories, winning and shortlisted organisations can derive an array of benefits from being recognised in the CIPS Supply Management Awards. “I think that an event like this is firstly a great opportunity for people to hear my speech! But seriously, it's a great opportunity for us to get together and network and actually feel proud of what we do. Often when you're in purchasing or supply chain you can be at the sharp end of things and I think it's particularly important the people get recognised for that,” says Ron.

“It's also really valuable for us all to benchmark ourselves against our peers. I was a winner with a company I worked in a number of years ago, and as a winner I know how useful it is both for internal publicity within your organisation and externally, if you want to recruit or whatever, so I think it works on many dimensions.”

This array of benefits should encourage more and more organisations to enter the CIPS Supply Management Awards over the coming years. “I think the interest in supply chain management is growing all the time, so the entries are continually getting stronger. I really hope the awards continue to get bigger and better every year, and in the current climate I see no reason why they shouldn't,” Ron concludes.